Australia’s Dilemma

The Quad or its National Interest

by James ONeill

New Eastern Outlook (March 17 2018)

In 2005 Japan raised the possibility of a separate grouping of four nations, Australia, India, Japan, and the United States, as a potential counterweight to the growing power of China. It was an ill-considered notion then, and nothing has happened since then to make it a better idea. If anything, it is a worse idea now that was twelve years ago.

Notwithstanding the illogicality and counter-productive nature of the proposal, we see the same four nations yet again raising the possibility of a “Quad” alliance. The one constant factor apart from the profound stupidity of the idea is that having an ambition to constrain China remains at the core. That Australia should even contemplate joining such an ad hoc alliance highlights the fundamental dilemma confronting Australia’s foreign policy.

On the one hand Australian foreign policy and defense commentators, strategists, and politicians constantly reiterate that the United States is the cornerstone or bedrock of Australia’s security strategy. The rhetoric surrounding this reached its apogee last year with Prime Minister Turnbull declaring that Australia and the United States were “joined at the hip” on defense and security issues.

On the other hand, however, not only is Australia geographically located in the Asia-Pacific region, its trade and other relationships are increasingly integrated into what the Australian defense planners used to call “Australia’s Near North”.

The recently released trade statistics for the 2016-2017 calendar years are revealing. Of total exports of $291.4 billion, 71.8% went to the East Asia market (China, Hong Kong, South Korea, Japan, and Taiwan). This compares with just under $19 billion for the whole of the European Union, and less than $17 billion for the whole of the Americas, from Canada to Patagonia. That latter figure was actually a decline of 5.9% over the previous year.

Conversely, trade with China rose 27.1%, Hong Kong 45.7%, Japan 17.4%, and South Korea 15%.

In 2015 Australia signed both a free trade agreement with China and also membership of the China-initiated Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (“AIIB“).

In December 2017 however, Australia was participating in a meeting in India, the so-called Raisina Dialogue, attended by the next US ambassador to Australia, well known Sinophobe Admiral Harry Harris, and the naval chiefs of staff of Japan, India, and Australia.

In addressing the meeting, Harris said “the reality is that China is a disruptive transitional force in the Indo Pacific. They are the owner of the trust deficit that we have spent the last hour or so talking about.”

Harris’s terminology reflected the language of the latest Pentagon defense strategy, released in December 2017, that labels China and Russia “revisionist powers bent on undermining the international rules-based order” and accused China of “predatory economics” that sees its expression in the Belt and Road Initiative (“BRI“).

It was no coincidence that the theme of the Raisina Dialogue was “managing disruptive transitions”. In one sense that is true. The BRI will certainly “disrupt” the existing order, both in trade and geopolitically. Whether or not one sees that as a good or a bad thing, depends in part on one’s view of the existing geopolitical order.

This is the order that western politicians and commentators almost invariably cite as the “rules-based international order”, the standard bearer and upholder of which is also almost invariably cited as the United States.

One of the greatest difficulties in persuading Australians to address the dichotomy between their perceived security interests (US-centered) and their national trade interests (East Asian centered) is to have them understand that the parrot-like recitation of the United States as an upholder of the rules-based international system is based upon a complete fiction.

The United States has been at war for 225 of the 242 years since its independence in 1776. Since 1945 alone it has attacked and in many cases occupied, at least 37 nations, killing more than thirty million people in the process. It has engineered “regime change” in at least as many countries again. It is the single greatest violator of international law of any nation on the planet. Its list of broken international agreements is a major reason why Vladimir Putin described the United States last year as “not agreement capable”.

The BRI, contrary to Harris’s reported comments, is an outstanding example of multilateral peaceful development. Of course, China wants a geopolitical benefit from its huge investments. The outstanding difference with the history of the Western great powers of old, however, is that China does not and never has, sought to subjugate countries that provide its raw materials. Neither has it invaded other countries nor sought “regime change” in governments who failed to comply with its wishes.

The lessons of history are clear for those not blinded by ideology and a fantasy view of reality.

The Quad proposal is as internally inconsistent now as it was when first proposed in 2005. If it was truly a union of democratic forces seeking to provide peace and security in the Indo-Pacific region, why then does it not include, for example, Indonesia, Singapore, and South Korea?

The reason should be obvious. Those three countries perceive the Quad for what it is: a thinly veiled anti-China alliance to replace the Obama administrations failed pivot to Asia. They are smart enough not to be associated with a scheme that would upset its most important trading partner and the major power in the region if not yet the world.

There are also doubts about the external consistency of the Quad proposal. When first proposed by Japan’s Prime Minister Abe in 2005, the explicit aim was to assist in Japan in resisting China’s inexorable rise is a geopolitical power in East Asia. Now, although there are some lingering disputes between the two nations, as in the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands, Japan is also actively cooperating with China in the construction of bridge and tunnel links to the Eurasian mainland so that Japan can benefit from the BRI links to European markets.

India similarly has a dispute with China over border issues, but it is also an important member of BRICS, recently became a full member of the SCO, and it is the starting point for the North-South Transportation Corridor via Iran and Azerbaijan to Russia. That development alone could not be seen as consistent with the United States’ geopolitical objectives, which currently demonizes both Iran and Russia on a full-time basis.

That leaves Australia, twisting on the horns of its self-created and unresolved dilemma. Despite the trade figures cited above; despite the apparent support of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade for Australia to join the BRI following explicit invitations from the government of China and the strong support of a number of business-related groups who see it’s enormous potential; it seems that the real driver of Australia’s foreign and trade policy is the Department of Defense.

The forthcoming ASEAN meeting being hosted in Canberra should be a golden opportunity to address the geopolitical realities. If history is any guide, however, Australia will continue to foster its delusions and cling to the coattails of the United States.

Until the confusion as to what constitutes Australia’s real national interest is resolved, the country will continue to follow the United States and its disastrous path to the detriment of Australia’s economic and political well being.


James O’Neill, an Australian-based Barrister at Law, exclusively for the online magazine New Eastern Outlook.

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US Planning a Terrorist False Flag Chemical Attack …

…to Justify Bombing Syria: Russia Says It Will Respond

by Federico Pieraccini

Strategic Culture Foundation (March 20 2018)

Events in Syria increasingly resemble a direct confrontation between major powers rather than a proxy war. Lavrov’s words, delivered a few days ago, reveal the critical phase of international relations the world is going through, with a potentially devastating conflict ready to ignite in the Middle East region.

An alarming warning by Sergei Lavrov and Chief of the Russian General Staff, Valery Gerasimov, was announced via the RT broadcaster and several Russian media. The content is explosive and deserving of the widest possible dissemination. Gerasimov claimed that Moscow had “reliable information that fighters are preparing to stage the use by government troops of chemical weapons against the civilian population”. He alleged that the US intends to accuse Assad’s troops of using chemical weapons against civilians, and then “carry out a bombing attack” on Damascus. Gerasimov warned that Russia would “take retaliatory measures” if the US targeted areas where its military are located in the Syrian capital. “Russian military advisers, representatives of the Center for Reconciliation and members of military police” are currently in the Syrian capital, Gerasimov said, adding that in the event that the lives of Russian military personnel are placed in danger, the Russian Armed Forces will respond with certain measure to both “missiles” and their “launchers”. A few hours earlier, Lavrov responded, “criticizing the remarks by the US envoy to the UN, Nikki Haley, about Washington’s readiness to “bomb Damascus and even the presidential palace of Bashar Assad, regardless [of the] presence of the Russian representatives there”. “It is an absolutely irresponsible statement”, the Russian top diplomat added.

The words of Gerasimov are even more dire, since he explains how the United States and its allies are preparing the ground to justify an attack on Syria. According to reports, terrorists stationed in Al-Tanf (an illegal US military base in Syria) received twenty tons of chlorine gas and detonators, disguised as cigarette packs, in order to attack in an area under the control of the terrorists that is densely inhabited by civilians. What would then happen is already obvious, with the White Helmets (aka Al-Qaeda) and mainstream media ready to broadcast the images of the victims of the attack, tugging at the heartstrings of Western viewers otherwise unaware of the conspiracy being played out. Efforts to frame Russia have already reached the highest alert levels, with the false-flag poisoning of the Russian spy in the United Kingdom. It seems that there is a significant effort by the United States, the United Kingdom, France, and Germany to provoke a military confrontation with Moscow. How else are we able to interpret threats from Macron to strike Damascus, together with his ominous advice to foreign journalists not to go to Damascus in the coming days and, for those already there, to leave the capital immediately? There has even been chatter within diplomatic circles that suggest that UN personnel are leaving Damascus. This could be psychological warfare, or it could be a prelude to war. With the stakes so high, we cannot afford to ignore any detail, even if it may be disinformation. The American attack seems imminent, with mounting signs of movements of American and Russian warships in the Mediterranean in attack formation.

Russian military representatives have reiterated that in the event of an attack, they will respond by hitting both the missiles launched as well as the ships from which the missiles were launched. Things are getting pretty dicey, and the risk of a direct confrontation between the United States and the Russian Federation are rising with every passing hour. The transfer of numerous US aircraft from Incirlik, Turkey, to Al-Azrak, Jordan, is another indication of preparations for an attack, since the forces moved to Jordan are close to the Al-Tanf base. The proposed strategy could involve an assault on the city of Daraa, for the purposes of securing the borders between Syria and Jordan and Syria and Israel.

The warnings raised by Lavrov and Gerasimov appear unprecedented, given that they detail a plan already set in course, evidently approved at the highest levels and aimed at provoking and justifying an attack on Syria; an attack that would encompass the Russian forces in Syria. Tensions continue to grow, following Russia’s shooting down of a drone by two surface-to-air missiles launched from its Hmeimim Air Base. Moscow has even deployed to the Mediterranean the Admiral Grigorovich-class frigate Admiral Essen and the Krivak II-class anti-submarine frigate Pytivyy. Both are prepared for anti-ship and anti-submarine operations. Sources claim that this deployment was planned some time ago and is part of a routine deployment of the Russian navy. But during such a delicate moment, it pays to focus on every detail. Without resorting to excessive alarmism, if Lavrov said that “the movements of the warships of the United States and its allies in the Mediterranean seem compatible with the strategy of using this chemical attack to justify an attack on the Syrian Arab army and government installations”, then it is reasonable to speculate on whether the Russian ships are moving in to the area to counter any provocations.

There are two fundamental flaws in the reasoning of US policy-makers and the US military establishment. They are convinced that an American demonstration of strength (involving a large number of cruise missile launched against Syria through a significant involvement of aircraft carriers as well as bombers) would stun Russia into passivity. Furthermore, US military generals are convinced that Syria and Russia do not have the ability to defend themselves for an extended period of time. They seem to be fooling themselves with their own propaganda. As their Israeli colleagues have already learned, such an assumption is mistaken. While the idea that a high level of firepower would meet with some kind of success, the possibility of a response from Syrian and Russian forces remains. And this possibility seems not to have been given sufficient weight by the US and her allies.

How would the American military and the Trump presidency react to a US warship being sunk by anti-ship missiles? It would only serve to demonstrate how vulnerable American naval forces are when confronted with such advanced weapons. It would represent a tremendous shock for the US military, possibly the biggest shock since the end of World War Two. What would Trump and the generals in charge do? They would respond with further bombardment of Russian forces, leaving themselves open to a devastating Russian response. The conflict could escalate within the space of a few minutes, leading to a situation where there could be no possible winners.

The normal reasoning I employ when considering total annihilation is placed to one side when US special forces deliver twenty tons of chlorine gas to Al Qaeda terrorists in Syria order to execute a false flag for the purposes of blaming Damascus and Moscow. If we connect this event to what is currently happening in the United Kingdom, and the hysteria in the United States surrounding alleged Russian hacking during the American elections, we can understand just how much international relations have deteriorated. This situation is reminiscent of Ukraine in 2015. Ukrainian forces suffered repeated defeats at the hands of the Donbass resistance, being contained in the thousands in different “cauldrons”. Within Nato headquarters in Brussels during that time, there was open discussion over sending a contingent to support Ukrainian troops. The plan, however, was never realized, given the possibility of direct confrontation in Ukraine between the Russian Federation and Nato.

In recent months, the possibility of a war on the Korean Peninsula has also been evoked and perhaps simultaneously averted by the unpredictable consequences for both Seoul and the American forces in the region.

In Syria, the approach of Washington and its diplomatic and military emissaries seems more reckless and less tied to a chain of command where the buck stops at the American president. It seems that the US deep state in Syria has a greater and more hidden control over American forces, sabotaging every agreement made between Moscow and Washington. We saw this during the Obama presidency, where the US Air Force bombed government troops in Deir ez-Zor only a few hours after a ceasefire had been reached between Lavrov and Secretary of State Kerry.

The grave circumstance about which we write seems to be without precedent, seeming as they do to lead towards a direct confrontation between nuclear-armed powers. Alas, in such circumstances, we can only hope for the best but prepare for the worst; we can only wait to read on the mainstream media notifications of the latest chemical attack in Syria. We can only hope that there is someone in Washington retaining enough sense to factor in the devastating consequences of an attack on Damascus and the Russian forces in the region.

Never before has the region been on the verge of such an explosion as in the next few hours — as a result of the typically reckless actions of the United States.


Republishing is welcomed with reference to Strategic Culture Foundation on-line journal

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Israel’s Poodle

Top US General Says American Troops should be Ready to Die for Israel

by Tyler Durden

Zero Hedge (March 19 2018)

I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same …


This is the oath of enlistment {1} that every American military service member or federal employee takes upon entry into government service (with slight variation for commissioned officers).

With the largest joint US-Israeli air defense exercise {2} ever conducted having recently concluded, which involved over 2,500 American service personnel, and in the midst of heightened Israeli involvement in the Syrian war {3}, we find ourselves asking …

Are US troops ready to fight and to die for America’s Israel’s defense? … We think not, but there are US generals out there enthusiastically promoting the idea.

Brigadier-General Zvika Haimovitch, the head of the IDF’s Aerial Defense Division and US Air Force 3rd AF Commander Lieutenant General Richard Clark. Image source: The Jerusalem Post.

Earlier this month, in the midst of the ninth annual twelve-day massive joint exercise named “Juniper Cobra” which was hailed in Israeli media as the largest of its kind, simulating a “battle on three fronts” {4} (namely, Syria-Lebanon-Gaza Strip) US Third Air Force Commander Lieutenant General Richard Clark spelled out just such a scenario wherein US troops could be asked to fight and to die for defense of America Israel – even to the point of being placed under Israeli commanders responsible for battlefield decision making.

While major joint military exercises involving significant troop deployments are nothing new for the US and its allies (Juniper Cobra itself has been conducted annually for nearly a decade), Lieutenant General Clark’s words to Israeli media are truly precedent-setting and shocking, especially as he is among the highest-ranking military officers {5} in the US armed forces.

It is well worth reading the alarming scenario General Clark laid out while speaking to The Jerusalem Post in its entirety {6}:

The United States and Israel enjoy a strong and enduring military-to-military partnership built on a trust that has been developed over decades of cooperation”, said USAF Third Air Force commander Lieutenant General Richard Clark, who also serves as the commander for the deploying Joint Task Force-Israel.

The Juniper Cobra exercises continue to strengthen this relationship, providing us with the opportunity to bolster interoperability and develop seamless integration with our Israeli partners.


According to Clark, the US and Israeli troops will work side-by-side under each other’s relevant chain of command.

But this is where Clark pushes far across the normative “military-to-military partnership” characteristic of joint drills with other allied nations. He says that US troops should be prepared to die for the Jewish State {7}:

“As far as decision-making, it is a partnership”, he continued, stressing nonetheless that “at the end of the day it is about the protection of Israel – and if there is a question in regards to how we will operate, the last vote will probably go to Zvika [Brigadier-General Zvika Haimovitch, head of the IDF’s Aerial Defense Division]”.

Washington and Israel have signed an agreement which would see the US come to assist Israel with missile defense in times of war and, according to [Israeli commander] Haimovitch, “I am sure once the order comes we will find here US troops on the ground to be part of our deployment team to defend the State of Israel”.

And those US troops who would be deployed to Israel, are prepared to die for the Jewish state, Clark said. “We are ready to commit to the defense of Israel anytime we get involved in a kinetic fight there is always the risk that there will be casualties. But we accept that – as every conflict we train for and enter, there is always that possibility”, he said.

And it appears that both military leaders are in agreement on this point – that they are ready and willing to put US troops in harm’s way in pursuit of Israeli defense policy.

Disturbingly, Clark acknowledges willingness for life-and-death battlefield decisions impacting American soldiers to be placed in the hands of the Israeli chain of command in saying: “if there is a question in regards to how we will operate, the last vote will probably go to [Israeli General] Zvika”.

While in more stable times in the Middle East, Clark’s words might possibly be dismissed as hyperbole and misplaced enthusiasm for “the mission” – his words come as Israel is already actively involved on two fronts: Gaza and Syria {8}. And according to many analysts and reports, including one recently leaked internal Israeli defense memo {9}, Israel is ramping up for devastating engagement along a third front as Tel Aviv continues to view Lebanese Hezbollah to its north as the prime threat to Israeli security.

Should broader war break out between Israel, Hezbollah, Iran, and Syria will US troops who find themselves working closely with the IDF be forced to obey the commands of Israeli generals, even to the point of death? We can’t find anything in the oath of enlistment or the Constitution [federal statute in 10 USC 502, and based in Article VI of the Constitution] that requires US citizens or soldiers to defend and fight for a foreign nation.











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War is on the Horizon

by Paul Craig Roberts (March 17 2018)

Have Washington and its British vassal set a stage for testing whether Russia has the stomach for war?

How else do we interpret the announcement by General Sergey Rudskoy, chief of the Operational Directorate of the Russian General Staff, that

… we have reliable information at our disposal that US instructors have trained a number of militant groups in the vicinity of the town of At-Tanf, to stage provocations involving chemical warfare agents in southern Syria. They are preparing a series of chemical munitions explosions. This fact will be used to blame the government forces. The components to produce chemical munitions have been already delivered to the southern de-escalation zone under the guise of humanitarian convoys of a number of NGOs. The provocations will be used as a pretext by the United States and its allies to launch strikes on military and government infrastructure in Syria. {1}


Also {2} and {3}.

Don’t expect to hear anything about this in the totally discredited Western presstitute media, which is a propaganda ministry for war.

The Russian government must be kicking itself that it again failed to finish the job in Syria and instead permitted Washington to expand its Syrian presence, arm and train its mercenaries, provide chemical weapons, and assemble its fleet to attack Syrian forces in order to prevent their reconquest of Syrian territory.

The question before us is: If the information that General Rudskoy cited is correct, what will Russia do? Will Russia use its missile defenses and air superiority to shoot down the US missiles and aircraft, or will Russia accept the attack and again denounce the illegality of Washington’s action and protest to the UN?

If Russia accepts the attack, Washington will push harder. Sooner or later Russia will be unable to accept another push, and war will break out.

If war breaks out, will it be a limited conventional war or will Washington use the excuse to launch nuclear ICBMs against Russia? These questions must be going through the minds of Russia’s leadership. Russia faces the grave danger that Washington’s Fifth Column inside Russia, the Atlanticist Integrationists, those Russians in the political and business leadership who believe Russia must be, at all costs, integrated into the Western world, will lock the government in indecision and expose Russia to a nuclear first strike.

So far Russia has continued to defeat itself by playing according to the rules of diplomacy and international law despite the obvious fact that Washington has no respect for either. During the past week, Washington’s British vassal, a country of no military or political significance, demonstrated total contempt for Russia and its president, Vladimir Putin. In other words, the insult to Russia came from a mere vassal state of Washington’s empire. An alleged poisoning by an alleged Russian nerve gas, the very existence of which is doubted by US and UK experts, of an inconsequential former spy and his daughter has been blamed, without a shred of evidence, on Russia by the British prime minister, defense minister, and foreign minister.

The British prime minister violated law and agreements to which Britain is a partner by giving Russia 24 hours to respond to an accusation for which no evidence was provided. Law and the agreements require that the country making an accusation share the evidence with the accused country, which has ten days to assess the evidence and reply. The British government refused to abide by the agreement to which it is a partner. Moreover, the British foreign minister Boris Johnson personally accused Russia’s President Putin of ordering the attempted murder of the inconsequential spy. For more information on the former spy and his lack of consequence and the absurdity of the orchestrated event, see recent postings on my website.

Not content with the unprecedented insult to Russia and its President, the British defense minister of a country that has no capability whatsoever of defending itself against Russia, even with its liege lord’s help, said in response to Russia’s rejection of the unsupported-by-any-evidence charge that “Russia should shut up and go away”.

This was too much for the Russian Ministry of Defense. General Igor Konashenkov replied:

The rhetoric of an uncouth shrew demonstrated by the Head of the British Ministry of Defense makes his utter intellectual impotence perfectly evident. All this confirms not only the nullity of all accusations towards Russia we have been hearing from London for the last several years but also that the “accusers” themselves are nonentities.

The “Great” Britain has long turned not only into a cozy nest for defectors from all over the world but also into a hub for all sorts of fake news-producing agencies: from the British “Syrian Observatory for Human Rights” to the created by a British intelligence officer pseudo-Syrian “White Helmets”.

As to boorish words of the British Defense Minister regarding Russia, it seems that in the absence of the real results of professional activity, rudeness is the only weapon remaining in the arsenal of the Her Majesty’s Military. {4}


Note the total dismissal of “Great” Britain by the Russian Ministry of Defence as a military and political power. From the Russian military’s standpoint, Washington’s British vassal state is a total nonentity. This suggests that the Russian military is focused on Washington and is unlikely to tolerate Washington’s agents in Russian government and business circles if they attempt to leave Russia exposed by indecision.

Perhaps the Russians will decide it is past time for them to demonstrate their superior military capabilities, and they will take out not only the US missiles and airplanes but also the fleets from which the attack is launched while putting their nuclear forces on high alert. What then would Washington do? Can a government composed of bullies drunk on hubris come to a sensible decision, or would people so arrogant as to think themselves “exceptional” and “indispensable” condemn the world, including the plants, animals, birds, and all creatures who have no idea of the murderous lunatics that rule the Western world, to death?

There is no greater threat to life on earth than Washington. Constraining Washington’s determination to destroy life on earth is the greatest challenge humanity has faced. If we fail, we all die, every one of us and all creatures.

Despite Russia’s military superiority, the humanity of the Russian government places it at a disadvantage as there is no concern for humanity in Washington.






Copyright (c) 2016 All rights reserved.

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The US “Betrayed” Russia…

… but It Is Not “News That’s Fit to Print”

New evidence that Washington broke its promise not to expand – “one inch eastward” – a fateful decision with ongoing ramifications – has not been reported by The New York Times or other agenda-setting media outlets.

by Stephen F Cohen

The Nation (January 10 2018)

Stephen F Cohen, professor emeritus of Russian Studies and Politics (at New York University and Princeton), and John Batchelor continue their (usually) weekly discussions of the new US-Russian Cold War. (Previous installments, now in their fourth year, are at

Cohen returns to a subject he has treated repeatedly since the 1990s, mainstream media malpractice in covering Russia, but with a new and highly indicative example that is both historical and profoundly contemporary. There have been three relevant major episodes of such malpractice. The first was when American newspapers, particularly The New York Times, misled readers into thinking the Communists could not possibly win the Russian Civil War of 1918~1920, as detailed in a study by Walter Lippmann and Charles Merz, published as a supplement to The New Republic, August 04 1920. (Once canonical, the study was for years assigned reading at journalism schools, but no longer it seems to be.) The second episode was in the 1990s, when virtually the entire mainstream America print and broadcast media covered the US-backed “reforms” of Russian President Boris Yeltsin, which plundered and immiserated the Russian people, as a benevolent “transition to democracy and capitalism” and to “the kind of Russia we want”. (For this episode, see Cohen’s 2001 book Failed Crusade: American and the Tragedy of Post-Communist Russia.) The third and current episode grew out of the second but spread quickly through the media in the early 2000s with the demonization of Vladimir Putin, Yeltsin’s successor, and now is amply evidenced by mainstream coverage of the new Cold War, Russiagate’s allegation that “Russia attacked American democracy” in 2016, and much else related to Russia. This rendition may be the worst, certainly it is the most dangerous.

Media malpractice has various elements – among them, selective use of facts, some unverified, highly questionable narratives or reporting based on those “facts”, mingled with editorial commentary passed off as “analysis”, buttressed by carefully selected “expert sources”, often anonymous, and amplified by carefully chosen opinion page contributors. Throughout is the systematic practice of excluding developments (and opinion) that do not conform to the Times’ venerable motto, “All the News That’s Fit to Print”. When it comes to Russia, the Times often decides politically what is fit and what is not. And thus the most recent but exceedingly important example.

In 1990, Soviet Russian leader Mikhail Gorbachev agreed not only to the reunification of Germany, whose division was the epicenter of that Cold War but also, at the urging of the Western powers, particularly the United States, that the new Germany would be a member of Nato. (Already embattled at home, Gorbachev was further weakened by his decision, which probably contributed to the attempted coup against him in August 1991.) Gorbachev made the decision based on assurances by his then-Western “partners” that in return Nato would never be expanded “one inch eastward” toward Russia. (Today, having nearly doubled its member countries, the world’s most powerful military alliance sits on Russia’s western borders.) At the time, it was known that President George H W Bush had especially persuaded Gorbachev through Secretary of State James Baker’s “not one inch” and other equally emphatic guarantees. Ever since Bush’s successor, President Bill Clinton, began the still ongoing process of Nato expansion, its promoters and apologists have repeatedly insisted there was no such promise, that it had all been “myth” or “misunderstanding”, and moreover that Nato’s vast expansion had been necessary and has been a great success, actual myths that Cohen also discusses.

Now, however, the invaluable National Security Archive at George Washington University has established the historical truth by publishing, on December 12 of last year, not only a detailed account of what Gorbachev was promised in 1990~1991 but the relevant documents themselves {1}. The truth, and the promises broken, are much more expansive than previously known: All of the Western powers involved – the US, the UK, France, Germany itself – made the same promise to Gorbachev on multiple occasions and in various emphatic ways. If we ask when the West, particularly Washington, lost Moscow as a potential strategic partner after the end of the Soviet Union, this is where an explanation begins.

And yet, nearly a month after the publication of the National Security Archive documents, neither the Times nor The Washington Post, which profess to be the nation’s most important, reliable, and indispensable political newspapers, has published one word about this revelation. (Certainly, the two papers are pervasively important to other media, not only due to their daily national syndicates but because today’s broadcast media, especially CNN, MSNBC, NPR, and PBS, take most of their own Russia-related “reporting” cues from the Times and the Post.)

How to explain the failure of the Times and Post to report or otherwise comment on the National Security Archive’s publication? It can hardly be their lack of space or their disinterest in Russia, which they featured regularly in one kind of unflattering story or another – and almost daily in the form of “Russiagate”. Given their immense daily news-gathering capabilities, could both papers have missed the story? Impossible, even more so considering that three lesser publications – The National Interest, on December 12; Bloomberg, on December 13; and The American Conservative, on December 22 – reported and commented on its significance at length. Or perhaps the Times and Post consider the history and process of Nato expansion to be no longer newsworthy, even though it has been the driving, escalatory factor behind the new US-Russian Cold War; already contributed to two US-Russian proxy hot wars (in Georgia in 2008 and in Ukraine since 2014) as well as to Nato’s ongoing buildup on Russia’s borders in the Baltic region, which is fraught with the possibility of an actual war between the nuclear superpowers; provoked Russia into reactions now cited as “grave threats”; nearly vaporized politically both the once robust pro-American lobby in Moscow politics and the previously widespread pro-American sentiments among Russian citizens; and implanted in at least one generation of the Russian policy elite the conviction that the broken promise to Gorbachev represented characteristic American “betrayal and deceit”. Both Russian presidents since 2000 – Putin and President Obama’s “reset partner”, Dmitry Medvedev – have said the same, more than once. Putin put it bluntly: “They duped us, in the full sense of this word”. (See Cohen’s 2011 book Soviet Fates and Lost Alternatives.) Russians can cite other instances of “deceit”, including President George W Bush’s 2002 unilateral abrogation of the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty and Obama’s broken promise that he would not use a 2011 UN Security Council resolution to depose Libyan leader Gaddafi. But it is the broken promise to Gorbachev that lingers as America’s original sin, partly because it was the first of many such perceived duplicities, but mainly because it has resulted in a Russia semi-encircled by US-led Western military power, an encroachment that continues today.

Given all this, we must ask again: Why did neither the Times nor the Post report the archive revelations? Most likely because the evidence fundamentally undermines their essential overarching narrative that Putin’s Russia is solely responsible for the new Cold War and all of its attendant conflicts and dangers, and therefore that no rethinking of US policy toward post-Soviet Russia since 1991 is advisable or, it seems, permissible, certainly not by President Donald Trump. Therein lie the national-security dangers of media malpractice, and this example, while of special importance, is far from the only one in recent years. In this regard, the Times and Post seem contemptuous not only of their own professed journalistic standards but of their purportedly cherished adage that democracy requires fully informed citizens.

If Americans cannot rely on the Times and Post, at least in regard to US-Russian relations, where can they seek the information and analysis they need? There are many valuable alternative media outlets, but few hard-working citizens have time to locate and consult them. Cohen recommends that they turn to two websites that almost daily aggregate reporting, analysis, and opinion not to be found in the Times, Post, or most other mainstream publications. One is Johnson’s Russia List {2}. The other is the website of the American Committee for East-West Accord {3}, of which Cohen is a board member. Upon request, both will come to your computer. The former requests a nominal donation but does not insist on it. The latter is free. For readers who worry about international affairs, the new US-Russian Cold War, and America itself, the information and perspectives they will gain from these sites are invaluable.





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Hungary’s Gold Repatriation …

… Adds to Growing Protest Against US Dollar Hegemony

by GoldCore

Zero Hedge (March 13 2018)

* Hungarian National Bank (“MNB“) to repatriate 100,000 ounces gold from Bank of England

* Follows trend of Netherlands, Germany, Austria, and Belgium each looking to bring gold back to home soil

* Hungary one of the smallest gold owners amongst central banks, with just five tons

* Central bank gold purchases continue to be major drivers of the gold market

* Russian central bank gold reserves now exceed those of China

* Decisions to repatriate and increase gold reserves come as rifts between East and West widen

A country’s sovereignty is becoming the driving force of so many changes in the geopolitical sphere, today. Whether it is Brexit, surprise electoral victories in central Europe, or a change in trade deals, sovereignty is at the forefront of so many of these decisions.

One of the first indicators that there was a change in the water when it comes to globalization and international cooperation was through central bank gold buying and repatriation.

For some time now many central banks have been working on building up their gold reserves and ensuring they are stored on soil it believes to be safe and trustworthy.

The most recent central bank to make this change is that of Hungary. Last week it was announced that it intends to bring 100,000 ounces of its very limited five tons gold reserves, back home from the Bank of England.

This is not an unusual move. In recent years we have seen the likes of Germany, Venezuela, and the Netherlands each repatriate their gold from various locations. The pace does appear to have been picking up since the late Hugo Chavez decided to bring home 180 tons of gold in 2011.

Furthermore, huge central banks, namely Russia and China, have been adding to their gold hoards, one more publicly than the other. Both have also been encouraging the use of gold as a means of payment in international trade as a means of avoiding US dollar hegemony.

The decision to place more focus on gold reserves is a statement by central banks and their governments to reduce the counterparty risk on their reserve assets. When holding another country’s currency you are vulnerable; the same applies to when a third-party holds your gold at a time when their own assets are perhaps more exposed than you’re comfortable with.

Russia, China, and Turkey Leading the Gold Rush

Hungary’s decision on gold repatriation was not something that made the mainstream news. After all, 100,000 ounces is very little when you consider that Russia increased its physical gold exposure by twenty tons in January 2018 alone.

Hungary decision is, however, a major comment on the current mindset of countries that feel they need to start working to protect their finances and borders. Hungary’s political changes are widely known and have been criticised extensively by both the EU and the wider Western world.

The decision to bring gold home is a statement that says Prime Minister Viktor Orban would rather have the country’s assets close to home rather than in the hands of a country that perhaps does not have his own best interests at heart.

This is a common theme, not just reflected in gold repatriation decisions but also in gold purchases.

Russia, China, and Turkey have each materially increased their gold reserves in recent years. Since March 2015, Russia has bought gold every single month. January’s purchase took their reserves above those of China, a level which had previously been monitored as an example of the East’s great interest in moving away from US dollar dominance.

China has been famously coy about its gold reserves. Apart from the period from July 2015 to October 2016, China only reported its gold reserve increases at various multi-year intervals. Most recently it has been reporting zero additions to the IMF.

Russia’s reasons for buying so much gold is akin to those of China, Turkey, and smaller countries such as Kazakhstan. Gold gives each of these countries independence from the US dollar amid financial sanctions, trade wars, and ongoing posturing by the West.

The West is Also Full of Gold Bugs

Whilst many in the West are dismissive about gold, the behavior of central banks suggests quite a different mindset. The top four holders of gold are all from the West. Germany, the second largest has been making big strides of late to show their interest and faith in gold.

Not only did they make the decision to repatriate a large proportion of their gold back to home soil but they also recognized that transparency, when it came to the country’s gold reserves, was paramount.

… another milestone and a global first, an additional fourth step towards increasing transparency was taken with the publication of a list of all German gold bars, totaling around 270,000 in number. The Bundesbank has now published this roughly 2,400-page list three times since October 2015, even though it involved a series of significant challenges. There is no “blueprint” for inventory lists of gold holdings and, in 2015, virtually no central bank in the world had ever released such a list.


Act Like a Central Bank

Gold cannot be devalued as the euro, dollar, sterling, and all fiat currencies currently are. It cannot be confiscated as can deposits through bank bail-ins, and it is extremely difficult to confiscate gold coins and bars if owned in allocated and segregated storage in safe vaults in the safest jurisdictions in the world.

Gold is a borderless money that acts as the ultimate reserve and safe haven in a diversified portfolio. This is something central banks are strongly aware of. The difference between the East and West banks is that the East is making big strides to bring gold to the forefront of their international affairs.

By adding gold to their reserves they are gaining equal footing with Western banks who have so far tried to dominate under a US-centric financial system.

Much of the above may sound as though it does not apply to the everyday saver and investor, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. The decision to move assets into physical gold is a decision to take control of your portfolio and to reduce the counterparty risk to which it is exposed. This is no different whether you are a bank with billions or a person with a few thousand.

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It’s Too Late to Worry …

… about “Normalizing” Trump. Decades of Policy Did That for Him

by Matt Taibbi

Rolling Stone (March 2018)

Kaster/AP/REX Shutterstock The United States helped create the pre-condition for Trump by continually spreading the idea that it’s OK to ally ourselves with leaders who abuse their subjects.

Editor’s note: The opinions in this article are the author’s, as published by our content partner, and do not necessarily represent the views of MSN or Microsoft.

Max Boot, the noted Washington Post columnist, and “Jeane Kilpatrick senior fellow for National Security Studies” at the Council for Foreign Relations, thinks Donald Trump is betraying American values by meeting with Kim Jong-Un.

Such a meeting, Boot says, would mean “giving the worst human-rights abuser on the planet what he most wants: international legitimacy”.

Let’s unpack that one for a minute. We’re worried now about giving human rights abusers legitimacy?

The idea that we don’t legitimize human-rights abusers is a laugh-out-loud joke everywhere outside America. You could fill a book chapter with the history of the friendly relations between American presidents and just the foreign dictators who are credibly reported to have eaten other human beings.

Here’s a cheery letter from Gerald Ford inviting Central African Republic dictator Jean-Bedel Bokassa (the remains of thirty people were found in his crocodile pond upon ouster) to Washington.

We helped install Idi Amin, too. He later denied rumors of cannibalism, saying human flesh was “too salty”, but he had other equally upsetting hobbies. We’ve supported a couple of generations of Nguemas in Equatorial Guinea, both of whom – uncle Macias and nephew Teodoro Obiang – reportedly ate their political enemies.

This is in addition to the countless Batistas and Suhartos and Diems and Marcoses and Pinochets who were just murdering thieving monsters we legitimized not by sitting down with them at the negotiating table, but by making them allies we showered with things like arms and money.

The problem with Trump is that he’s too stupid to be embarrassed by such relationships. He constantly makes all of Washington look bad by jumping too enthusiastically into bed with the blood-soaked juntas and anti-democratic governments we more quietly embraced in the past.

Over the weekend, for instance, Trump horrified progressives when he called for the death penalty for drug dealers, an idea he said he got from Chinese President Xi Jinping. “I don’t know if this country’s ready for it”, Trump moaned.

This is monstrous, of course, and God help us if we actually try to enact this policy.

But the fact that we’re so tight with repressive China, to begin with, is on Trump’s predecessors, who should have taken a harder line on human rights issues a long time ago.

For decades, American officials in both parties have overlooked China’s horrific record on human rights. Both continually lobbied for China to keep receiving Most Favored Nation status and other trade benefits, largely because corporate donors wanted it.

The real measuring stick we use when it comes to determining whether a foreign regime is irredeemably monstrous or an important ally is whether the leaders we’re talking about are our bast***s, or their own bast***s – puppets, or freelancers.

Dictators who take the throne with our backing get weapons and cash. The ones who do it without our backing usually find themselves getting a nice healthy dose of regime change sooner or later.

Sometimes the offender starts out as an American lapdog only to leave the kennel and instantly become a Dangerous International Human Rights Offender.

Manuel Noriega was on the CIA payroll until 1988, but later became disobedient and found himself holed up in a nunnery listening to invading American troops blaring “I Fought the Law” (the Clash version, in a nice detail) as they waited for him to surrender.

Saddam Hussein was another friend-turned-target, as was Diem and a few others. The line between friend and pariah in our foreign policy is incredibly slim. It really has nothing to do with anything beyond the political utility, to America, of the regime in question.

This is why the debate over Trump meeting with Kim Jong-Un is so absurd. The crime here isn’t meeting with a dictator – we snuggle up to worse creeps all the time – the crime is meeting with an out of pocket dictator.

Rachel Maddow last week struggled to articulate why she was so opposed to negotiations with North Korea. Her basic take seemed to be “Nobody has ever met with the dictator of North Korea, therefore nobody should ever meet with the dictator of North Korea”.

A lot of self-described progressives seem to be agreeing with her. This is interesting since the same idea was incredibly popular among the same audience not long ago.

On July 23rd 2007, at the Citadel in South Carolina, Democratic presidential candidates held the first presidential debate of the 2008 election cycle. In it, an audience member asked if candidates would be willing to meet with leaders of countries like Syria, Iran, and North Korea.

“I would”, Obama said. “And the reason is this: the notion that somehow not talking to countries is punishment to them, which has been the guiding diplomatic principle of [the Bush] administration, is ridiculous”.

As a colleague pointed out to me over the weekend, this was one of the moments that first endeared progressives to Barack Obama, precisely because it defied bipartisan Washington consensus. True to form, after that debate, both Hillary Clinton and George Bush (“Some seem to think we should negotiate with terrorists and radicals”) ripped Obama’s naivete.

The idea that the United States does not negotiate in public until the enemy has already surrendered in private has long been a bedrock principle in DC.

It’s one of the reasons why people in other countries hate us so much. It’s also why our “peace proposals” so often read like ultimatums.

A classic example was the Rambouillet deal presented to Slobodan Milosevic. Milosevic agreed to the key principle of an independent Kosovo but didn’t want the deal secured by Nato troops, as outlined. He preferred the occupying troops fly under a UN or an OSCE flag. We told him to take the deal or be bombed.

He wouldn’t budge, we bombed him, and our news media consistently misreported this war-starting sequence of events. The New York Times went so far as to say Milosevic “absolutely refused to entertain an outside force in Kosovo”.

The current consensus on North Korea is basically the same. It’s said repeatedly we shouldn’t countenance a meet with the mad dictator until the mad dictator agrees in advance to surrender. Doing anything else makes us look weak, and gives a public relations win to a murderous autocrat. And we wouldn’t want that!

The flamboyant horribleness of Trump is allowing warmongering, democracy-hating hacks on both sides of the aisle to rewrite history. They’re penning a new creation story that dates America’s embrace of murderous dictators to Trump’s election.

“Another morning in America”, sighed Paul Krugman, after Trump invited Egypt’s ruthless Abdel Fattah el-Sisi to Washington last year, and called him a “fantastic guy”. Politico chimed in: “Critics worry the president has a love for tyrants and little interest in promoting human rights and democracy”.

What these people left out of their outrage is that we’d been supplying Sisi with jets and missiles since the Obama years. As The Intercept pointed out, exactly the same thing happened when Trump and Tillerson cozied up to the repressive Bahrain regime (who began receiving arms from us in 2015).

One of the constant themes we hear on social media and from pundits is that the press has to go the extra mile to avoid “normalizing” Donald Trump. The problem is that when it comes to embracing autocratic regimes, Trump actually is normal. We should be ashamed not just of him, but of the decades of votes we cast for politicians who did the same things.

We helped create the pre-condition for Trump by continually spreading the idea that it’s okay to ally ourselves with leaders who abuse their subjects – who push dissenters out of airplanes, electrocute their genitals, bomb women and children, and so on – so long as our economic interests are protected.

I would love to be able to point a finger at Donald Trump and say, “The United States does not sit down with murderous dictators!”

But we can’t say that, can we? Not with a straight face, anyway.

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